Last month, my daughter needed to make an Italian food to bring to school and wanted to bring cannolis. It was easy enough to find a recipe for the filling, but the cannoli shells seemed too daunting to attempt, gluten-free or not, so we went to our local supermarket and bought a batch of unfilled shells.
We filled them with a blend of ricotta cheese blended with some vanilla, instant coffee powder and powdered sugar and then stuffed the filling into a plastic bag with a corner snipped off for a makeshift pastry bag. Then we dipped the ends of the cannolis in mini-chocolate chips and Badda Bing! They looked rather splendid and I can assure that none were left on the plate by my daughter's classmates.
I still wanted to scout out a gluten-free cannoli shell recipe so I could use the leftover ricotta filling to make Dan some of these beauties, but I couldn't find any information on the Internet or in any of my gluten-free cookbooks, so I think the wheat gluten may be somewhat vital to the architecture of these crispy little tubes. Perhaps some Daring Baker out there would like to tackle this as a gluten-free baking challenge?
I did find some mention that a gluten-free pizzelle, a crispy sort of Italian fried cookie, might be a good substitute cannoli shell if rolled around a metal cannoli tube. Apparently you also need a special pizzelle iron to make these cookies, so I was further thwarted in my quest for a gluten-free cannoli, although here is a link to a pizzelle recipe for those dessert makers more stubborn than I.
All was not lost for Dan's sweet tooth, however, as I made him a different kind of Italian treat with some cannoli goodness: a Sicilian-style Cassata Cake. I figured a good, firm sponge cake would be an easy gluten-free thing to bake up, and it thankfully was according to this recipe.. I then let the sponge cakes cool and topped each layer with some of the coffee-flavored ricotta filling and there was a tasty, cannoli-like dessert for Dan, which he enjoyed especially over several mornings with his cup of coffee.
Now if only some gluten-free baking entrepreneur would manufacture a gluten-free cannoli shell that I could purchase through the mail and stick in the freezer to pull out as needed for my sweetheart......